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tv   When the Circuit Breaks 1975  CSPAN  October 25, 2015 9:32pm-10:02pm EDT

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♪ >> american history tv is featuring c-span's original first series, "first ladies: quotence and image and
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stories. to the war, open to imposed an embargo on the united states and other countries marchg from 1973 until 1974. the embargo caused oil to jump from three dollars of to $12 per barrel. circuit breaks: a -- "when the circuit breaks" is a film made to help the american public understand
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the crisis. >> i think it's going to end with everybody changing their habits. >> just start working now, otherwise we won't have time. we will be out of oil in a few years.
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>> unless we can harness the power of the sun, it will run out eventually. >> the power of the sun. at one time or other, the sun has been to man god, king, father, brother. beyond all that the controlling force of all the lives and moves here on earth. it's fiery element would change the course of continents and sees. would send awesome currents of your energy charging through the atmosphere. working with other elements, the sun would first start life on our planet. gradual shifting and up people would bury creatures and plants beneath the service -- many of the surface of the earth. there they would fossilized, eventually turning into huge reservoirs of oil, gas, and coal." billions of years would pass. from these underground beds of fossil fuels man would draw the means for duplicating in his small way the power generated by the sun. at first, energy was used for heat and light. the uses multiplied slowly, then faster and faster until finally the fuse was lit for a virtual energy explosion that would
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affect all aspects of our lives. ♪ narrator: when a circuit breaker or fuse blows in the home, it's not because there is no energy
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available, it simply because we called for more energy to be delivered than the line can take. then the whole system blows. the principle of the household fuse or circuit breaker can be extended to all forms of energy. all in effect have circuit breakers. when the demand grows greater than the immediate supply, these circuits break. >> flight 307 is canceled until further notice. >> it was announced today that gasless sundays will go into effect next month. and, when the circuits
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break at the time, we have an energy crisis. we are in an energy crisis now and will be for some time to come. ours is a crisis characterized which the shortages of all kinds. bruce: we have an absolute shortage of national gas. we cannot produce as much as we can use. the situation is destined to continue indefinitely. by indefinitely and me not only just the next few years, but as far ahead as we can see. narrator: crisis is nothing new to man, whose progress from the earliest times has been marked by a constant quest for ways to harness in use energy resources. he looked for a way to harness wind and rain. burning wood provided him with heat. with the coming of steam
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engines, wood would would become the source of fuel to push ships and trains across the surface of the earth. coal was the first fossil fuel to be exploited as a seemingly endless source of heat and power. we tunneled deep into the earth to dig it out. history is filled with references to oil. the fossil fuel that we most rely on today. as far back as 300 bc, the chinese drilled 300 feet for oil. in 1859 the first oil well was created in titusville, pennsylvania. the coming of oil triggered a rush to sponsor prospectors set claim quick and easy
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riches. the invention of the lightbulb would lead to a world electrified and increase the need for coal, oil, and natural gas to be electrified. the gasoline engine demanded fuel to run on cars. energy was something to use, use, and use. as the pace of life quickened, we were into the 20th century. there were cars and energy galore. -- now there were cars, trains, energy needsd galore. industrial progress in economic growth was fired by what many seem to look on as endless energy. until 1950 the united states can -- could provide the energy
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needed. less than 25 years we found ourselves in trouble. each year we used 5% more, totaling our demand every 12 to 14 years. coal production stayed at 1940's levels. crude oil production dropped. in 1968 natural gas consumption had new discoveries. oil companies during this time were encouraged to get oil and gas from other countries. by 1970 we imported one third of our oil and gas, relying on others to meet new needs. in 1973 the big middle east producers cut off oil shipments to major consuming countries. when the embargo was lifted the price of foreign oil had jumped from three dollars per barrel up , four timesarrel higher the in before.
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before. $20 billion left the united dates. no one was spared the impact. >> looking at my bill, i'm getting up there. paying more for electricity every month. the gasoline is going up. i am used to being able to go when i want to, when i want to, but suddenly i think i will have to start curbing my habit. >> we have tended to conserve energy is limited in the use of back on heats cut on airhome and cut back conditioning. general conservation efforts in our house. >> most people are pretty selfish. rather let someone else do it, but when it comes right down to the home, they just want to go the same old way. narrator: although some of them went on in the same old way, eventually the middle east embargo would be felt by all of us. one out of every seven gallons
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of oil we had to been using to power oil, home, businesses and schools, just was not there anymore. at the height of the embargo half of a million were thrown out of work. products that we manufactured and sold dropped from $10 billion to $20 billion in value. by are caught by surprise crisis that could recur and recur unless the entire country recognize the dangers of the quite real energy shortage. out of the embargo was project independence, the launching pad thatwould the evil -- country'se this first national energy policy. we must the able to cope with future energy emergencies. we must immediately use our traditional energy sources. we must develop new sources. we must manage better the present demands based on energy. we must conserve.
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goals arethree largely the job of industry. the fourth, observation, is up to all of us. it was designed to make the united states energy self-sufficient by 1985. we will import some oil but not be so dependent on other countries. to meet this challenge we must change our energy habits. we must end our love affair with the big car and use buses and commuter trains. we must walk or use bikes, rather than drive. we must end our love affair with we must pay more attention to energy use in the home to guarantee that cool air is kept in the summer, warm air in the winter months. when lights are not needed, this should be turned off. but cutbacks by individuals are not enough to prevent future shortages. converting raw materials into energy uses up a tremendous amount of energy itself.
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so do manufacturing and heavy industrial plants. we must save fuel there, too. >> here at the san leandro plant, we have cut back on energy by 20%. we have achieved this primarily by being smart about when we turn the lights off and making sure that our equipment is running in the most efficient manner and turning our thermostats down. when you look at it, you wonder why you didn't do this before, but i'm sure it will be carried forward in the future with new and better ways to conserve energy thought up. narrator: waste material can be used as a source of energy. a project in st. louis has proven the garbage can be put to use in generating power. used fuel that once paid others
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to holloway is being recycled. -- is being hauled away to be recycled. manufacturers of basic products can now collect, brush, compact and recycle metal containers once considered fit only for the garbage. this can create a 95% savings in energy over what it would cost to start with raw materials. >> the savings today are in excess of $1 million in cash. so, we are convinced that this conservation is just plain good business. narrator: for all of these first steps taken in conserving energy, real conservation in planning by all of us for the most efficient use of energy in the future. real conservation means planning the office buildings, industrial complexes, and homes to take advantage of natural light and
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natural heat, natural coolness, natural ventilation. real conservation means that while striving to achieve the most efficient car and truck ourne, we must limit driving now to what is absolutely necessary. the fact remains that conservation alone will not give us the energy needed to permit our country to prosper at its present level. this brings us to the second goal, to develop the oil, coal, and gas. ♪ much of this country, particularly in the west, was once a sea. today it is a sea of scrub oak, sand, and sage. beneath the surface lies rich pools of oil and beds of coal. enough some say to answer our needs for centuries. so great is our demand that we are looking for new energy and
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-- in places once considered sacrosanct. drilling for natural gas is taking place in george washington national forest in virginia. >> it is a trend that more and more local utilities are getting used to because they have to protect their pipeline supply in some way. they are going into drilling programs like this one, building synthetic gas plants, it importing liquefied natural gas. because for at least the foreseeable future we don't anticipate any major increase in the pipeline quantity of gas available to us. narrator: but, as many wells may be drilled, the prospect of big strikes appear remote. while the average well in the middle east produces 5000 barrels of oil per day, the best producing wells in the united states provide far less. and proven reserves in the lower , 48 states grow smaller every
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year. though exploration has been stepped up, production continues to lag. the search goes on elsewhere. we are tapping huge reserves on the north slope of alaska. some geologists claim that the world's greatest fossil fuel resources lie beneath ocean water in the north sea, off indonesia, the gulf of mexico and the eastern seaboard. underwater drilling is expensive and risky. floating platforms are towed out to sea and anchored. drilling rigs are assembled at great cost. they are sent deep to the ocean floor.
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oil and gas from 18 to 30 wells may pass through anyone processing rig in a given day. proven pools are being tapped beneath these waters in the gulf of mexico. natural gas from land and ocean-based wells is compressed by booster stations across the country, from storage facilities mostly based in louisiana and texas. deposits must be developed if we are to meet our growing needs. on the rocky mountains western slopes, oil filled rock is being mined and processed in an experimental plant. though it's now expensive to get crude oil out of the rock, it could someday answer a good portion of our oil needs. >> in terms of the reserves available in colorado, utah, and wyoming, they are very large.
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the high-quality mineable reserves that might be produced in the foreseeable future are also very large. this could be in the range of 5% to 10% of our total liquid requirement. what about coal? coal remains one of our greatest resources. there are only two ways to get at it. for generations we have gone underground to mine it. much has already been brought to the surface. remains another way to get: is to --
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another way to get coal is to strip off a layer of soil and rock. rich strains are there just under the surface. how you get coal, where you use it, how you dispose of the waste all pose problems. too often our countryside has been scarred by mining waste. they warn of land ravaged by bulldozers, strip with once rich plains left desolate. eastern coal is more likely to pollute the air than western coal. western coal is far from cities and industrial areas where it's needed. laws now require anti-pollution devices to strain out the ash in the waste that once black and the air around coal-fired generators. those who have not complied with such standards in the past must do so in the future so that dirty coal can be used in a clean way.
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then the vapors will be no more than steam, which of apparatus a few yards away and strip mined land can be reclaimed and restored by replacing topsoil, trees, and grasses. >> bridal this will never become a forest, we will certainly return the land to the better shape than we found it before the coal was taken out. it's a grazing area. several times per year flocks of sheep go through here. the antelope congregate in the valley during the winter. they return and we are very proud of this. they are kind of our pets around here. narrator: it is expected that within a few years we will be calling on electricity to supply half of our energy needs. unless we find new ways to turn generators, we face serious electricity shortages and we are facing the outer limits of production in some, such as hydroelectric power. >> limited as to geography because you have to have a source of falling water. most of these best sites have already been used. bear in mind that there are problems in balancing whether the hydroelectric capacity should be installed.
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because when you build a dam, of course you have to flood some areas, building up the reservoir in back of it. all of these things have to be taken into account. a balanced view of the energy and the environmental values are to be considered. narrator: compromises have been worked out to protect the environment and at the same time satisfying fuel needs. more than 600 wells on for -- 4 man-made islands in long beach harbor, california, draw oil from pools as far as four miles away. enclosed drilling superstructures actually enhance the city skyline once marked white blackened derricks. -- marked by blackened derricks. that is to protect the environment and deal with a shortage. developing additional energy resources is not enough.
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we need new sources. that brings us to our third goal. finding new kinds of energy. there is nuclear power. one theory is that clear fusion -- nuclear fusion can be generated by and check thing atomic nuclear particles into a field. still another involves use of laser beams. >> our hope is to demonstrate or perhaps come up with the invention of the new lasers required to make laser fusion reactors in the early 1980's and perhaps have a prototype reactor going in the 1990's. narrator: although power generated by nuclear lies in the future, but the power splitting of atoms is already a fact.
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construction delays and the high cost of financing threaten to undermine united states goal of having half of all electricity supplied by nuclear power by the year 2000. another proven source for energy is geothermal power. deep beneath the surface of the earth, commercially feasible plants for generating electricity are already operating at the geysers near san francisco. >> we hope that by the year 2000 we are hopeful that we are going to be able to get what we need for 75,000 megawatts, or again with the current rate of consumption, that would supply the needs of 75 million people. narrator this area is an ideal : source to tap for power. such fields have been found. one in california, one in italy, one in iceland, one in new zealand. we are still learning how to explore for geothermal power and how to use it once we find it. the target date for meaningful
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production beyond what we now have is in the next decade. success has been limited so far in the attempts to capture and use the energy of the sun directly. but there are in increasing number of solar heated buildings and homes. >> we have been living in a solar heated home for five years. our first winter fuel bill here in washington, these was only four dollars $.65. we use only 31 gallons of oil for the entire winter. that was with temperatures down well below freezing many times. >> the principle of solar heat is simple. it works best in areas where most of the days are sunny. water running through panels is warmed by the rays of the sun, providing hot water for families being stored during the night for use around the clock. solar heat is practical. it works. but it must he supplemented by traditional energy sources. no real breakthrough has been
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made in converting solar energy into electric power. the target date for this new development, no year mentioned. scientists and engineers are engaged in basic research now to find other sources of energy. wind power. underground coal gasification. breeder reactors. dal power.i but no one presumes to lay down a timetable for achieving man's age-old dream of unlimited energy. the goal seems too remote. for the next 10 years we must rely on the fossil fuels that have earned us in the past. with oil and gas production in this country going down each year, we have no alternative but to conserve. otherwise we are faced with a dollar drain that within one short decade could result in
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the world's wealth in the middle east. the oil exporter gets richer, the oil importer gets poorer. the consumer pays the bill. the concert, we face embargoes and energy circuits breaking without warning. we must recognize now energy will cost us more. that is a fact of life. >> i think it is going to end with everybody changing their going back to the things that maybe our parents were used to that we have never seen before. now for werking will be out of time. >> we have to think of our kids and how they are going to have to put up with a lot of stuff just because we are not careful. we must change if we are
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going to have the energy we need. we have gotew oil, to look in new places. demand more efficient engines for our cars. we must push forward at whatever cost the development of new energy resources. we must make personal commitments to cut down wherever we can on the energy we use. only this can keep the total energy circuit for breaking -- from breaking disastrously for all of us. the energy is here, within this universe, on this planet. it is a challenge facing each of to explore, to, find, to develop, and to use wisely not wastefully the energy that is here. if we meet this challenge,


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